Without a doubt, the world is not as it should be. We have fallen into a miserable mistake when we think that fatherlessness, sadness, perverse sexuality, earthquakes, pit-bulls, poison, you name your favorite, are just normal. To an extent they are: these sorts of things are the norm, as long as sin is the norm. Until Christ remakes everything, nature will be at war with humanity, and humanity will be at war with the Gospel.
But what about when we get down to what’s wrong in us individuals? What about the sins that plague us as a race, that plague each and every one of our hearts? Is there freedom from these to be found on earth?
From various quarters, the answer will be yes: if you turn the right nob of self effort, if you logically convince yourself against these things, if you try hard enough, you may resist these things. Or they may say no, that these things must be lived with until the day we die, for our depravity is so deep that we may never change.
Is that true? Depravity is a controversial word because we start by examining from the standpoint of man rather than the holiness of God: once we begin not with how deep we are, be it ever so deep, but how high God is, then will we begin to understand why the “smallest” sin has the consequences that is has.
But, the good news is, this holy God is the One that has made a way for lowly sinners to approach and serve Him perfectly: and He doesn’t leave us knowing we will reach heaven, yet walking on the earth in continual disappointment at our own performance. He provides a way in the Gospel, to turn, daily, in constant warring, by the strong hand of His Holy Spirit, from the way things are, to the way things are supposed to be. So, we are free in the Gospel to run to everything that has already been provided for life and godliness; sin isn’t just being continually ripped out of us, but it is being replaced by the better.
So, if we want to pick apart the areas where sin seems dominant, we simply need to focus not only on that sin, but how the gospel is antonymous alternative thereof.
All that being said, the two (maybe) areas on which I want to zero in are 1) sexual lust 2) and emotional entanglement. So, in the full knowledge that this won’t be fun for anyone, least of all the writer,
1) The Gospel Frees us from sexual lust.
Anywhere you go, from the Wal-Mart checkout stand to the mall, to the movie theatre to the SuperBowl, sexual temptation, both for males and females, is pressed upon us. It’s an ugly reality that the primary reason that such is held before us is not because the rest of humanity is out to corrupt us against our wills, but that it sells so well to our human nature: and, indeed, there is such a thing as ordinate sexual desire that has been genuinely implanted within us, as part of who we are, and it can be exercised for good. The problem arises when that becomes the ruling passion of our lives, if even for the few seconds that it is held before our eyes, and then comes creeping into our thoughts. So, if the human body, nothing more than a heap of ugly, biological mass that only looks good because it has skin over it, becomes such a means of temptation, and then of bondage, how then shall we escape?
The answer, is without a doubt, the Gospel: we have within us the freedom to turn from meditations on the human body to meditation on the body of the Christ that was marred for us: we’re not left with praying for these sins to be removed, but we can turn our thoughts and hearts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the Abba cry being raised ever from out lips, we can turn our hearts to an Isaiah 53 driven Philippians 4:8 Christianity: it isn’t enough that we do not think on the inherently evil, namely sexuality and sex apart from marriage, but that we are so captivated by both the beauty of Christ Jesus in His essential person, and on the “true and honourable” reality of the physical body of the Saviour, the visage of Whom was “marred more than any man”.
The Gospel transfers our hearts and eyes away from the things that they formally feasted upon and places them on the glorious Giver of this Gospel; we’re taken from the Kingdom of total enslavement to proud, unbelieving, self-serving lust, to a Christ-exalting, faith saturated, others-serving enslavement to and preoccupation with Christ. That, my friend, is good news: that when the lusts or the straying thoughts creep in, we’re not left with, “I’ve done it again,” but with the Spirit-given freedom to turn, and to fix our eyes on the sweeter delights that dwell Before the Throne in the courts of Heaven, wherein is our citizenship.